How to buy an original candlestick telephone

Written by timothy sexton
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How to buy an original candlestick telephone
1920s Candlestick Telephone (Infrogmantion through GNU Free Documentation License)

Buying a candlestick telephone is easy enough, but buying an original candlestick telephone is not. If all you want is a remarkably detailed reproduction, you can start searching on the Internet and find one in less than a minute. It will take some detective work to learn to how to buy an original candlestick telephone.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Spotting a fake candlestick phone is essential before you can buy an authentic original candlestick phone. Look for the words American Telephone Company, American Tel. and Tel. Co, or Western Electric Co. on the tag. The tag itself should be applied with two rivets on either side; if the tag appears to be glued on, it is not authentic.

  2. 2

    Check the positioning of the finger stop. The finger stop is the little curved piece of metal that stops the finger when you dial. Original candlestick phones have the finger stop located close to the 3:00 position if the dial face were a clock. Reproduced candlestick phones tend to place the finger stop around the 5:00 position.

  3. 3

    Notice how the stop is mounted onto the phone. A reproduction of an original candlestick phone is likely to be mounted with a Phillips style screw. Since this kind of screw did not exist when the original phones were made, the appearance of a Phillips screw indicates it likely is not authentic.

  4. 4

    Inspect the grain of the phone to see if it is straight if the candlestick telephone is made of wood. Most wood used to produce original candlestick telephones was made of quarter-sawn oak instantly recognised by its jagged grain pattern.

  5. 5

    Notice how far away from the phone the receiver hangs. Original candlestick telephones have very little distance between the receiver and the box. If the switch on which the phone hangs leaves it too far away from the base, it is probably a reproduction.

  6. 6

    Search the Internet or antique stores or an auction to find an actual original candlestick phone, but with the knowledge you now possess of how fakes are made, you are more likely to avoid buying a fake. Conduct an appraisal by a licensed appraiser before buying any candlestick telephone to ensure you are not being taken.

Tips and warnings

  • Because it is so easy to fake an original candlestick telephone, it is incumbent upon you to become educated about the most obvious giveaways before you buy anything.
  • Never buy any antique without first having it appraised by a professional.

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